Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Ahead of Final Passage of the American Rescue Plan
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic leaders of the House and Senate for a press conference ahead of the final House passage of the American Rescue Plan on Wednesday morning. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon, everyone.
I'm so excited, I just can't hide it. The Rules Committee –
The Rules Committee just finished its work, and now, we'll make preparation for bringing this important American Rescue Plan to the Floor of the House. The – it’s so exciting, as you know, because of what it does: vaccines in the arms of the American people, money in their pockets, children safely in school, workers safely back to work. It's a remarkable, historic, transformative piece of legislation, which goes a very long way to crushing the virus and solving our economic crisis.
It's interesting to me to see what I'm hearing on the Floor during the PRO Act debate, how the Republicans are talking about their tax scam, $1.9 trillion in their tax scam, 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent. And this bill is the same amount of money, $1.9 trillion, overwhelmingly helping America's working families. You'll hear more about that from our colleagues as the next couple of days go by.
But I just wanted to join members of our top Leadership in just giving you an update as to where we are and that the Rules Committee has finished its work, its work on something that in the 33 years that I have been in Congress and up until now, the Affordable Care Act has been the most consequential legislation that I have been a part of. This is definitely on a par with that, if not to exceed it in terms of its impact on many more poor people in our country.
With that, I'm pleased to yield to Mr. – our distinguished Democratic Leader who knows more about this schedule than any of us for any other information or any bragging rights about this important legislation. This is – it's not only provisions, it's pieces of bills.
Mr. Richie Neal has about a trillion dollars in money in people's pockets, right?
Chairman Neal. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. And including the pension piece of it, which is a piece of legislation that went a long way to, to meet the needs of so many people in our country. But that’s just another example.
Barbara Lee talked this morning about the equity piece and how this legislation addresses the inequality of how health care and the vaccine and all the rest would be distributed – a piece of legislation she and others had put together.
In any event, all of it, excellent. All of it fair. All of it an opportunity for us to grow the economy by investing in the people, For The People.
And I might say for our Republican colleagues who – they say no to the vote, and they show up at the ribbon cuttings or the presentations.
With that, I yield to Mr. Hoyer.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And we all give accolades to Mr. Yarmuth for his excellent work over the years as Chair of the Budget Committee. I think I told you once before when I commended him for his great work and commended his staff and thanked him for commending his staff. In his closing remarks on the Floor of the House last week, he said – was it two weeks now? A week and a half ago. He said, ‘Yes, the staff deserves so much credit and so does some bourbon.’ So, he's true to his roots of Kentucky. That went without saying.
Let me say that the staff of the Congress, personal staff – and I say personal, individual Members’ staff – the staffs of the committees, the staffs of Leadership offices worked relentlessly, really 24/7 on different shifts, to make sure we can meet this deadline in a values-based, precise way. This is a very complicated bill. And it took our best talent – all hands on deck. So, I salute the staff, I salute the Members, I salute our chairs. As you know, I have always credited our dazzling chairs with the excellent work that they brought to the table, whether it was this bill or other legislation related to crushing the virus and addressing saving the lives and livelihoods of the American people.
But having said that, I want to commend Chuck Schumer and the Democrats in the Senate for passing a very fine bill, very much like ours – some tweaks. But nonetheless, they did a great job in the Senate.
But my praise right now goes to the President of the United States, Joe Biden. This is the Biden American Rescue Plan. It will be followed by the American recovery plan. And it's about just that: saving lives and livelihoods and giving people hope for the future. His presidency does just that. This legislation is a reflection of his values.
Now, it looks a lot like our Heroes bill. We have quite a bit of this in our Heroes bill, but I'm so glad our shared values plus – enhanced by vaccines and so many other advances that are there. We couldn't be prouder than to be associated with him in this.
And it's so sad, because in all of the bills, as Mr. Hoyer said, we've had bipartisanship signed by the president. We have a Democratic president, all of a sudden, many of the same features of those other bills in one size or another are in this bill. And the Republicans have decided they cannot be for it. That's unfortunate, as I said. They'll take some credit for it in their districts, but we'll have more to say about that.
But I do want to say this. I said earlier that there's some legislation, like the Butch Lewis Act, that was so much a part of the pension bill and the equities legislation that Mr. Clyburn was so much a part of the with Congressional Black Caucus – and the Hispanic Caucus and the Asian Pacific Caucus – of shaping so that we have fairness in how the vaccines etc. are distributed and other aspects of outreach for health.
I just want to mention Rosa DeLauro. This Friday – I think it is – it will be eighteen years ago that she first introduced the child tax credit refundability bill. And here we are. We did get some of that under President Bush in a bipartisan way. And now long overdue, once again. So, I want to salute her in that regard.
But we can go on and on and we will. We'll have so many presentations about this to praise our Members because they all made a valuable contribution to this. And we all are grateful to the President of the United States for his great leadership.
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, sir.
Q: You talked about the, the Child Tax Credit –
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: That's – it lasts for a year. So you present a situation where you’re creating a fiscal cliff, if it's not extended, for all these families. You're talking about lifting the poverty scale –
Speaker Pelosi. It’s COVID related.
Q: Could get knocked right back down.
Chairman Neal. Well, one thing that you should know about the tax code: getting something out of the code is oftentimes harder than getting something in the code. So, I've already had some thoughts about how we're going to expand it and make it permanent. And I intend to share those in the near future, but what we did is unlikely to go away. For now –
Q: Do you want to share them now, like how you pay for it?
Chairman Neal. I've got some ideas I will share with you at the right moment.
Speaker Pelosi. This is a very important issue for us. And as you know, this is a COVID-related legislation. So that – yes, Chad.
Q: Thank you. Good afternoon. You talked about the Republicans might take credit for some of this, but they’re probably not going to vote for the bill.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. Yeah.
Q: In a couple of days, you're probably going to be down in the numbers if the Senate confirms Marcia Fudge and Deb Haaland here. What does that mean with trying to achieve some of the other parts of your agenda if you're down, right down to the edge and you're not getting any help from the other side of the aisle?
Speaker Pelosi. We haven't – we're going to have elections. We’re already in the course of one in Louisiana, where Mr. Cedric Richmond’s person who will come in, in that capacity, will be here. And then when they are confirmed, and hopefully it will be soon so that they can assume their places in the Cabinet of the United States, they will have elections and they'll be replaced.
Q: But do you think you’ll be able to get other support on some of these other initiatives, if it –
Speaker Pelosi. It's not going to be a problem. Garrett?
Q: Madam Speaker, even last fall, when the last COVID refill passed, you were already talking about having to do another bill –
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: In the new Administration. Do you think this is the last primarily COVID bill that you'll have to take up?
Speaker Pelosi. You're just going to have to ask the virus. If it stops mutating. If it stops spreading and therefore mutating, then this will be. And some of the provisions in here that have a fuse like the expanded tax, the enhanced tax – enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefit that goes until the fall, just – we'll just see where we are then. But it's not anything anybody can predict. It's just a question of the science. And we will have legislation to address it for as long as it's there. Any comments from my colleagues?
Q: Can I ask that a different way? I mean, you’ve talked about the importance of crushing the virus –
Speaker Pelosi. That’s right.
Q: Are you confident the provisions in this bill can do that?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes. Again, the – what is interesting about this virus is that it's resourceful. It mutates. It has variants. And so too must we be resourceful and resilient in how we deal with it, but we will be on top of it.
Q: Madam Speaker, thank you. Are House Democratic leaders concerned about maybe losing some Members, progressives, in this revised COVID-19 bill? Especially –
Speaker Pelosi. Excuse me, I'm sorry, I can't hear – these leaders are concerned about what?
Q: Are House Democratic leaders concerned about losing –
Speaker Pelosi. No, no.
Q: Any Members –
Speaker Pelosi. No, no.
Q: In this COVID-19 revised bill this time around?
Speaker Pelosi. No, no. We're not worried about that. Mr. Chair – Mr. Whip. The man who counts the votes.
Whip Clyburn. I think we only lost two on the first time. And I think we at least cut it in half this time.
Speaker Pelosi. So we have a 50 percent increase in the number of people who left. But let me just say, our Members have good judgment and they know that this legislation is just something historic and transformative, to return to those two words.
And we are not giving up on the Fight for 15. We've all been involved in it for years, and we will continue to be involved in it. And I'll talk more about that at my press conference on Thursday once we pass this bill and the rest.
But no, they know. How – I mean, it's hard for us to understand how the Republicans can vote against this bill, because it has such an impact on their constituents. Our Members are well aware of that. And also the value, the intellectual excellence of what is in the legislation. So we feel pretty confident about it. And we thank you for your attention to our – I'm so excited. I just can't hide it.